On Stage

Bring on the Flicks

RIIFF returns with a week’s worth of international indie gems

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Now in its 22nd year, the Rhode Island International Film Festival is dedicated to shining a light on independent films and filmmakers that otherwise might stay in the shadows. Flickers, the parent organization of the festival, has a 36-year-long history of promoting these films on a global scale.

When choosing the 300 films to screen, Public Relations and Program Coordinator Gabbi DiNobile says their judges invite audiences on a journey, making sure to mix genres to allow for comedic relief between heavy films. Films that make it to RIIFF also undergo quite a few rounds of judging, since the festival receives over 6,000 submissions.

In addition to bringing brilliant pieces to the screen, Flickers and RIIFF hold an accreditation with the Academy Awards, meaning that they have the power to send films in for Oscar consideration. After that, films are judged in the hopes of making it to the final nomination list. “Having that relationship with the Academy is something we don’t take for granted,” says DiNobile. “We’ve been an Oscar qualifier since 2001 and have had over 50 Oscar nominations at this point because of our festival.”

Notably, RIIFF is one of the few festivals in this area with this relationship with the Academy. “People sometimes have a mentality that there’s not much here in RI,” says DiNobile. “But a lot of people call RI the ‘East Hollywood’ because we have so much going on.”

Last year, one of RIIFF’s submissions to the Academy, The Silent Child, actually made it to Oscar night and took home a trophy. “We saw how special it was, because [the filmmakers’] passion matched ours, and we locked them in for a world premiere,” she says. “We’re hoping to have them back this year for our
opening night.”

This year, the festival will be dedicated to Dr. Winnie Brownell, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at URI for over 40 years. “She basically set the foundation for film education in RI, so we really want to pay tribute to her,” says DiNobile. “I’m pretty sure our executive director, George Marshall, had her in class.”

In addition to screenings, the festival will include panels and workshops with people in the industry. “It’s a really supportive and collaborative environment,” she says. “It also gives people the resources that they might not be able to get to and helps them build connections.”

For DiNobile, the best part of the festival is getting to meet new faces and see unique films. “It’s a great opportunity to see things that you wouldn’t otherwise,” she says. “People will discover new films and filmmakers and maybe even get to talk to someone who ends up way up there someday.”

The Rhode Island International Film Festival runs August 7-12. Tickets are $10 for individual screenings, or audiences can purchase a five-pack for $40. Tickets are available online on Eventbrite or at each of the box offices.

Rhode Island International Film Festival
Various Venues • August 7-12